Obama's statement claiming families are off limits is well and nice and certainly puts him on the higher ground for not attacking a young troubled 17 year old girl but let's face facts, it's a moot point. The news of Sarah Palin's daughter is out and it's being discussed on sites like this and many others all over the internet. The real question that needs to be asked however is what is the real impact?
There are those on either side who will vote for or against McCain regardless but they aren't the ones I'm talking about here. I'm talking about true swing voters, voters who have voted Republican and Democrat in the past. Voters who do not feel strongly enough about either McCain or Obama in that they will change their mind one way or the other due to the VP choice.
I've already meet Democrats who supported Hillary solely because she was a woman and who now plan to support McCain because of his picking a woman as his VP choice. They see this as bringing woman's issues like teen pregnancy front and center. McCain stands to pick up far more voters like this then Obama will be able to capture in voters simply voting for him because he's a minority. Most minorities already vote Democratic so he's not gaining something he didn't have already. McCain on the other hand is.
Palin brings problems which could cost votes. She's a mother of 5 with the youngest being a special needs child and now her 17 year old daughter clearly being in trouble to the point she's going to need her family's support. Can Sarah handle the job of VP and be there for her family? Admittedly that's a sexist question as we would very well not be asking those same questions if she were the man of the family who's typically viewed as the bread winner while women traditionally viewed as the maternal care giver who stays home with their children. But will this be a problem for her?
Democrats will try to make this a lose lose situation for her but I'm not so sure it will ring as badly with middle America. Many families go through problems. As a parent of two I'll be the first to say there's only so much a parent can do then you have to kiss your kids on the cheek and hope they make the right choices. Sometimes they make mistakes but that doesn't make someone a bad parent. I think most others with kids will also know and understand this and if anything having someone in the top roles of this country who share some of the same problems "typical Americans" have might be seen as an advantage. After all who's better to help us with the problems we face, someone who's been there and gone through it themselves or someone who is preaching but has never had the problems in their own life?
Also Palin is walking the walk she's been preaching, her daughter is choosing to keep the baby and her boy friend is stepping up to help support and raise the child. Anyone who views a baby as a life should see this as a significant news story. Taking responsibility for individual choices and mistakes in ones own life is exactly what Republicans have been calling for for a long time now. Here we have the perfect example in the making. Now if it comes out that her daughter goes on welfare at any point in the future I'll be the first to rail against them for passing off their problems onto society (as in the case of the 17 girls up in Gloucester) but so far I'm not seeing any signs of that.
At this point I'm not quite sure which direction Palin's daughter will turn things but it's going to be interesting to watch. I'm still leaning toward saying Palin was a major win for McCain and is exactly the "change" in the political arena we've been looking for.